The United States has no intention of recognizing Iran's right to enrich uranium, a senior US official privy to the West's nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic told Ynet Saturday.
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According to the official, Washington and its allies will continue to pressure Iran via various sanctions, until it complies.
The US, he said, does not know whether the Iranians are taking part in the negotiations to find a solution "or to waste everyone's time." Nevertheless, the West is in agreement – Iran must suspend its 20% uranium enrichment, he said, "But we don't really know if a deal is possible."
Iran, it seems, has yet to decide for itself whether or not it will pursue the nuclear negotiations seriously, he hedged.
Baghdad talks (Photo: Reuters)
The nuclear talks are plagued by great mistrust between the parties, he said. The West demands that Iran halts all uranium enrichment as well as the operations at the Fordu nuclear site; while Iran presented a five-point plan demanding that the international community recognize its right to pursue such nuclear endeavors.
According to the American official, the talks in Baghdad were essentially a way for the West to see whether such negotiations with Iran were even possible. "Talks for the sake of talking are meaningless," he said.
While in Baghdad, he added, the West made clear to Iran that time was of the essence: "There is a diplomatic window, but it won't stay open forever," he said.
'Israel and US see eye-to-eye on Iran'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak voiced their skepticism over whether any headway could be achieved in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, prompting Washington to involve Israel as much as possible in the talks.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman – the United States' top negotiator in the nuclear talks – arrived in Israel on Friday, to brief the two and "reaffirm the US' unshakeable commitment to Israel's security," a department statement said.
Washington and Jerusalem "are in constant dialogue," he added, saying that the United States was "highly aware of Israel's just concerns" regarding Iran.
Stalling? Ahmadinejad visiting nuclear plant (Photo: EPA)
The sanctions on Iran will continue until it meets the international community's demands, he said. Israel and the United States see eye-to-eye on Iran and agree that it cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, he added.
Still, Washington feels that it must exhaust all diplomatic avenues vis-à-vis Iran, while the diplomatic window is viable.
'Alternatives to talks very serious'
The Obama Administration rejects Israel's criticism as to the delay in imposing sanctions on Iran, as the nuclear negotiations were a result of those very sanctions, he said.
Nevertheless, the US sees no reason to offer Iran any mitigations simply because they agreed to the talks, he said, adding that Israel and the US were united in believing time is running out.
As for the sanctions themselves, the official said that they were the most extensive sanctions ever imposed on Iran and it was now up to Tehran to act decisively and convincingly.
Washington understands Netanyahu's skepticism, and according to the official, it is shared by US President Barack Obama. The alternatives to talks are very serious, he stressed. "Iran going nuclear is very serious – but so is war."
As for Barak's concerns about Iran's "zone of immunity" – the point after which it will be able to withstand a strike on its underground facilities, the official said that the US agreed with Israel's analysis and that Washington "intends to stop Iran from going nuclear."
Anyone who thinks otherwise, he concluded, fails to understand the gravity the United States lends the matter. "For the sake of world peace – we have to stop Iran," he said.
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